Suffering Canadiens withdrawal? The Gazette has the answer with the ultimate fantasy experience as beat writer Pat Hickey and Gazette techie Eric Tobon employ EA Sports NHL 13 to produce The Season That Isn’t. Here’s how things might have looked in Thursday night’s game against the Bruins in Boston.
BOSTON — Louis Leblanc says he understands why wingers want to play with centre David Desharnais.
“If you get in position to score, he’ll find a way to get the puck to you,” Leblanc said after the Canadiens completed a home-and-away sweep of the Boston Bruins with a 4-1 victory Thursday night at the TD Garden.
The victories lifted the Canadiens’ record to 2-2 and they are in a three-way tie with Buffalo and Toronto for the Northeast Division lead.
Leblanc was the beneficiary of Desharnais’s puck sense when he scored the Canadiens’ fourth goal at 12:45 of the second period. Desharnais was preparing to leave the ice for a line change when he picked off an errant pass by Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg.
“Most guys would have just dumped in and go to the bench, but he saw me as I came through the neutral zone and he put the puck right on the tape,” said Leblanc, who surprised Tuukka Rask with a 40-foot wrister high on the goalie’s glove side.
The Canadiens were outshot 11-3 in the opening period, but the game changed on a spectacular save by Carey Price on a short-handed breakaway attempt by Brad Marchand. Price waited until Marchand made a move to his backhand and snared the puck with his glove. Instead of holding the puck for a faceoff, he dropped it and found Erik Cole with a two-line pass. That led to the first of two goals by Max Pacioretty, a power-play marker at 6:01.
“We can’t give them opportunities on the power play,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We talked about it before the game. We were short-handed three times, which isn’t a lot, but that first goal put us in a hole.”
The Canadiens added three more goals in the second period to take a 4-0 lead.
Desharnais won a battle with Andrew Fedrence behind the Boston net and found Pacioretty in the slot at 4:29.
Tomas Plakenec scored at 7:05 when he scored off a rebound of a shot by Scott Gomez, who is settling in to his role as a left-winger. Gomez, who seemed reluctant to shoot when he was playing centre, had four shots on goal and has 15 shots through four games.
“I’m more comfortable with every game,” Gomez said. “The most important thing is that we won the game. You have to give Pricer a lot of credit because we could have been down by two or three goals in that first period.”
Price finished with 27 saves and lost his shutout when Nathan Horton scored at 2:34 of the third period.
The Canadiens are back home Saturday night when Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals visit the Bell Centre.